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Renovation 101

Thursday, March 19, 2015

From deciding the colour scheme to figuring out the lighting, renovating a house can prove to be a tedious task. So, the Woman’s World team tells you what you need to keep in mind while renovating your home

Fading paint, peeling walls, broken furniture — all this calls for renovation. A seemingly simple prospect, renovation can be extremely tough to execute and requires a lot of investment in terms of money, time and even your mind. From drawing up a budget to getting the necessary permissions in order, it’s a difficult task, especially in a city like Mumbai. But, fret not! With our guide, we hope to make things much easier for you.

BIGGER SPACE
Ah, space — the bane of almost every household in Mumbai! Our city is known for its matchbox-sized rooms (we apologise for the cliché, but it’s true!), and so, simple tricks that make your room appear larger will prove to be a big help. Read on to find out about a few. 

Keep it subtle
In a small room, you should avoid bright colours and pick a light colour scheme. Light colours such as white, pastels and neutrals create the illusion of a bigger room.

Go monochrome
Monochrome works not only in fashion, but also on your furniture and will make your room look larger. Use monochromatic themes on your furniture, walls and rugs. Remember to keep it interesting by using different textures and styles in the single colour that you choose.

Less furniture
Placing too many pieces of furniture in a small room will make it cluttered and as a result, your room will look much smaller. A love seat will work better than a full-size sofa, depending on the size and shape of the room. Add two medium-sized chairs or two small wood chairs, and you’re good to go!

Wall mirrors
Wall mirrors not only reflect images, but they also reflect light and colour. You can use this to your advantage, by picking mirror tiles that reflect an entire wall. This will make your room look twice as large as it actually is.

Lights are the key
The way you light your room is a key element in opening up a small space. Recessed spot lighting is visually appealing and is perfect for a small space. A torchière light is great for bouncing light off the ceiling and back into the room, making it appear larger and lending it a warm glow.

BUILDING PERMISSIONS
An aspect often ignored by most of us, ensuring you have the required permissions is extremely important. We spoke to Oswald D’souza, a retired civil engineer, who tells us about a few important points that you should consider.

  • You’ll have to give a letter to your housing society informing them about your plan to renovate. Without it, depending on your society’s rules and by-laws, you could be fined heavily.
  • If you intend to perform major structural changes, the society may have to inspect your home and your renovation plan before giving you the go-ahead.
  • If you’re planning on doing cement work, you may also have to submit an undertaking saying that you will make sure that the construction debris is cleared up once you’re done renovating.
  • It is the duty of the housing society to maintain its buildings and to take care of cracks and leakages in beams, columns and on the exterior structure of the building. But, you can’t demand that they fix these issues immediately. They can carry out the repairs whenever they are doing other internal or external structural repairs.

PAINTING
Before you begin
Check the surface of your walls for dampness and water seepage. If there is dampness, you’ll have to take measures to fix the cause (usually a leaking pipe). Tap the walls and listen for a hollow sound, which indicates that the plaster is loose. If it is, remove the plaster and fix that section of the wall.

Know your paint
There are broadly two kinds of paints — oil-based and water-based. Distempers and emulsions are water-based, while lustre and enamel paints are oil-based. Emulsions can be cleaned easily — using a cloth and a mild soap solution. Oil-based paints, on the other hand, last longer, but they produce strong, irritating odours.

Paint finishes
Picking the colour and type of paint is only half the battle; there are quite a few types of paint finishes that you’ll have to pick from. A general rule to remember is that shiny paints make imperfections in your walls more prominent. The following are some common types of paint finishes that you can choose from:

  • Matte: This is the most common finish for interior walls and it doesn’t have any shine. It can be used on walls with imperfections, but it’s a little difficult to clean.
  • Satin: This is a smooth paint finish and is best suited for a wall that will require frequent cleaning, such as your child’s room. However, it can’t be used on walls with imperfections, as it will make them more noticeable.
  • Eggshell: This is a very subtle finish, but it has less of a shine than satins paints. It does bring out imperfections, but not as much as satin does.
  • Semi-gloss: This type of finish can be highly reflective and is very easy to clean. It’s best suited for cabinets and door trims.
  • Gloss: This finish will show every imperfection on your wall, making it a good idea only if you’ve got a perfect wall.

ENSURING SAFETY
Living alone can be quite tricky and can serve as a hindrance to safety if you aren’t vigilant. Malad resident Janette D’Sousa, who recently got her house re-done, says, “As a precaution, you should have a plan to store your valuables before the work is going to start. Make sure to put all your valuables in a locked cupboard or store them in your bank locker. Be prepared with extra rags, so that once the workers finish for the day, you can clean up your house — this will ensure that you don’t have to undertake a massive clean up exercise once all the renovation work is over. If you have kids who suffer from allergies, make sure that you keep them away from where the work is going on or at least try to seal the doors with newspapers and cloth in order to keep the dust from flying out.” Here are a few other pointers that you should keep in mind.

Sensory lights
Motion sensor lights are extremely handy, especially if you live alone as they come on at slightest movement. Install motion-sensor lights outside your door in order to stop burglars and criminals from breaking in.

Double check safety
Get a locksmith to install good quality locks on your door, complete with bolts and chains for extra safety. If you can afford it, get an electronic safety system installed — it comes with a security alarm.

While Renovating
If you’re a single woman who’s getting her house redone, it is important that you keep your safety in mind. Don’t leave valuables lying around and if it’s possible, single out a room where you can store personal items and keep it locked. Also, remember to change all the locks once you’re done renovating your home — you don’t want unsocial elements to end up with duplicate copies of your house keys!

Double door it
Several homes in India come with two main doors, one of which is an extra security door that opens on the outside. Installing a security door can be a bit costly, but it is worth it if it means keeping you safe.

Confusing name plates
Most buildings have nameplates not just on your door but in the lobbies as well. If you live alone, avoid putting your first name up and put your last name on instead. This will confuse intruders and will leave them unsure about the occupancy of the house. You will be surprised to know that many intruders
do in-depth research before breaking into a house.

DRAW UP A REALISTIC BUDGET
When you decide to get your home renovated, the first thing you need to do is draw up a sensible budget. Arnaaz Dhanbhoora, who recently got her home in Andheri renovated, tells us, “While renovating your house, decide on a budget keeping in mind that during the course of the work, it will always overshoot by a bit. So, be prepared for that. Look for a good and reliable contractor, preferably someone with good references and his own team of workers to ensure good coordination and to prevent unnecessary delays.”

Spend wisely
While renovating their homes, people usually look to spend less. Take your time to look for contractors and avoid settling for a contractor with the cheapest estimate. Quite often, their original quote will not include certain aspects and you may end up paying more later. We’re not suggesting that you hire the most expensive contractor, but use your best judgement. Jagdish Makwana, a contractor based in Dahisar, tells us, “Drawing up a budget is important. However, it is crucial that you avoid skimping on money if you want good quality work. As contractors, we always recommend setting aside at least 20-25% more than the initial budget. This is because once we start the renovation work there are always some internal problems with the walls, which come to light only after a wall has been torn down. These problems obviously go beyond the initial estimate.”

Avoid last minute changes
Try to avoid last minute changes as they will cost you extra money. Instead, before renovation starts, do your research and make concrete decisions. Making last minute changes can have you paying extra money for workers who have to work overtime and for work that has to be redone. Jagdish says, “Many clients make changes later because the work that has been done is not what they had imagined it to be. Anyone who is about to renovate should know that changes that are made later on will add to your expense.”

Have a design ready
Have a detailed floor plan designed before you begin remodelling in order to avoid cost escalations later on. It is wise to put your design down on paper as this helps you catch problems that may go unnoticed. An interior designer can help you with this. Jagdish tells us, “You can consider starting off with an interior designer, but a designer will not go deep into the internal problems of a house. It is wise to start off with a civil engineer first and then a contractor, as they will analyse the problems of a house at a grass root level.”

DIFFERENT TYPES OF TILES
Tile flooring comes in a variety of materials and it’s important to know about them to ensure that you make the best, most cost-effective choice.

Ceramic tiles
Ceramic tiles are by far the most commonly used tiles and are versatile in the sense that they can be used as flooring, walls or as counter tops. They come in a variety of finishes such as matte, embossed, glazed and textured. However, it is best to use tiles with an unglazed finishing instead of a glazed one as glazed tiles tend to scratch with time.

Even the grout lines (the lines that separate tiles) can be difficult to clean so unless you are up for some intricate cleaning, steer clear of these.

Marble tiles
Marble tiles are made from natural stone and come in a variety of designs. You may like them for their versatile appearance, however since they are porous in nature, they are not the best option for kitchen flooring.

Slate tiles
Slate tiles are rustic in appearance as they are cut straight from the rock and are unpolished. They are all the same size, although they are all different in appearance. Having experienced a growing popularity over the years, slate tiles are a current favourite and they are available in a variety of earthy tones.

Granite
Granites are by far the most popular choices for counter-tops and are made from an igneous rock that is dense and hard in nature. Distinctive in nature, granite is scratch resistant and is perfect for kitchen floorings. It is also naturally antibacterial and waterproof.

Taking care of your painted walls

  • If you’ve just painted your walls, wait at least two weeks before cleaning them.
  • Try and set aside a day every month to clean your walls, which you can do with a soft sponge and a mild soap solution. Don’t scrub too hard as that may damage the paint.
  • If you spill anything on your walls, such as food, don’t waste any time in cleaning it off. The sooner you get to spills, the better.
  • Your children’s rooms may need more attention than other rooms. You should apply a new coat of paint every two years.
  • If you detect any damage to your walls due to water seepage or a leakage, get it checked immediately. Even if you fix the cause, you may need to re-paint the affected walls.
  • Lastly, paint on windows and doors, if exposed to direct sunlight, tends to lose its shine. Check such windows and doors periodically — they may need a new coat every two years or so.
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